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Gum Chewing: Helpful or Harmful?
While there is no question that regular gum chewing promotes tooth decay, there is clinical evidence that demonstrates just the opposite for sugar-free gum.
Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free chewing gum after meals and snacks, especially when toothbrushing at those times is impractical, helps to reduce the acid level in the mouth and its potentially detrimental effect on tooth enamel.
Its mechanism of action is the stimulation of ten times the normal rate of saliva flow, due to both the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in the chewing gum (sorbitol or xylitol). The saliva washes away food particles and acid produced by bacteria in the oral plaque and neutralizes the acid because of increased concentration of bicarbonates. Chewing sugar-free gum is not intended to replace toothbrushing and flossing.
Sugar-free chewing gum is also recommended for people with xerostomia (dry mouth) to stimulate increased salivary flow, along with drinking greater amounts of water (6-8 glasses a day). However, those experiencing TMJ (temporomadibular syndrome) symptoms should refrain from any gum chewing.